A senior delegation from the Institute of Physics has visited the Physics Department at the University of Limerick to meet students and staff to discuss the future of research and development and the challenge of ensuring diverse groups are encouraged to study physics.


Professor Martin Freer, the IOP’s Vice-President for Science and Innovation, visited Limerick as part of his tour to Ireland to hear the experiences of local IOP members of studying and working in physics.


He heard presentations from the department on their approach to teaching, research, innovation, industry and public engagement in promoting physics in Ireland.


The delegation also heard from the department’s Dr. Deirdre Ni Eidhi, who discussed Limerick’s record of recruiting female and diverse students to the physics department, which has been recognised in its Athena SWANN Silver Award.


The visit finished with a tour of the department’s facilities, including its Bernal Research Infrastructure, hosted by Head of Department Professor Tofail Syed


Commenting after the visit, Professor Freer said he was impressed by the scale of the ambition he saw at the department: “The University of Limerick Physics Department gave me an incredibly warm welcome and is an example of how much original thinking and great leadership can achieve with the right support.


“Limerick has an enviable record of original research and physics-led innovation but also a department which feels like a great place to study and develop as a scientist. It is helping to tackle the perception that physics is just a science for the privileged and supporting some really impressive initiatives to support and encourage girls to study physics.”


Professor Freer a nuclear physicist, and Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute (BEI) at the University of Birmingham. He is also Director of the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA), which comprises eight internationally-renowned Midlands universities which are part of the Midlands Innovation partnership, together with the British Geological Survey.


His visit kicked off with a tour of the Oireachtas (National Parliament) in Dublin, where he met members of the education committee and Minister Niall Collins, Minister of State at the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and concluded with a visit to Ei Electronics, a global leader in the manufacture of residential fire and carbon monoxide detection products based in Shannon, County Clare.